REVIEW: VAMPIRE ACADEMY / CERT:12 / DIRECTOR: MARK WATERS / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL WATERS / STARRING: ZOEY DEUTSCH, LUCY FRY, DANILA KOZLOVSKY, GABRIEL BYRNE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Having died an embarrassing undeath at the American box office earlier this year, this toothless adaptation of Richelle Mead’s ‘best-selling’ young adult novel receives a perfunctory DVD release in the UK having been pulled from its planned theatrical run. But even on DVD (there’s no UK Blu-ray version) it’s dead on arrival and it’s not hard to see why.
It appears that seventeen-year-old Dhampir (half human/half-vampire) Rose Hathaway is on the run (for entirely unexplained reasons) with her royal Moroi (peaceful vampire) best friend Lissa Dragomir. Within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, where the art of clumsy info-dumping is taken to new extremes, Rose and Lissa are dragged back to St Vladimir’s, a Hogwart’s-like school for vampires. But evil vampires, the Strigoi, who hunt and kill like proper vampires should, are on their trail. Back at the school, Rose and Lissa have to deal with teenage rivalries and jealousies and danger from within the school’s own walls which threatens Lissa’s safety.
Seriously, who could really care about any of this stuff? Even the teen audience Vampire Academy is aimed at stayed away in droves and who can blame them? This is a warmed-up stew combining ingredients from Harry Potter and Twilight with a bit of Buffy-lite smartmouth dialogue thrown in for good measure. But it’s a concoction which just never comes to life. The writing is stilted and self-conscious, the acting’s perfunctory at best (and, in the case of Lucy Fry, pretty terrible) and the budget clearly can’t stretch to much in the way of decent visual effects.
Lumbered with a dull, incomprehensible and downright uninteresting plot weighted down by far too much dizzying backstory, Vampire Academy has little to recommend it apart from one or two well-staged fight sequences and a commendably optimistic ending which hints at a sequel which, mercifully, will never happen. It’s a horrible and lifeless husk of a film designed to cash-in on lingering Potter/Twilight popularity but it’s so blatantly, unapologetically cynical that even tweens still yearning for their fix of sparkly Robert Pattinson won’t be fooled again this time. If its risible box office takings haven’t already done the job, then let’s hope Ofsted can step in and close Vampire Academy down for good. No one comes out of this terrible shambles with any merit or distinction whatsoever.
Extras: Alternative opening sequence / Conversation with Richelle Mead / Deleted scenes